Speaking different languages in the USA.

United States
January 13, 2008 3:52pm CST
Does it bother you when you are out and about at the store,restaurant ect.to hear different languages spoken around you other than English ? It really irritates me very,very much because it sounds like jibber jabber.I wish I didn't have to hear it because it is very annoying.It totally gets on my nerves.It makes me feel like I'm in a different country other than the USA.I think that if a person can't take the time to learn English they shouldn't be here.I believe learning English should be a stipulation before stepping inside of the USA.Does this jibber jabber effect anyone else or am I just weird ?
4 people like this
12 responses
@barehugs (8985)
• Canada
14 Jan 08
I'm Canadian but I live in South Texas for 5 months each winter. McAllen Texas is a border city where the majority speak Spanish. My wife and I really enjoy the Latino's. They are exceptionally bilingual. Its a pleasure to hear them speaking Spanish with the customer ahead in the lineup,and then instantly switch to English. These people are educated in English, but speak Spanish in their homes. They are good citizens and Great Americans.
• United States
14 Jan 08
Being Hispanic American, it does my heart a world of good to know that others appreciate the skill it takes to have to try and master 2 languages. Thanks!
• United States
14 Jan 08
Well,I would really admire someone like that also.One who speaks their language and has no problem speaking in English fluently also.
• United States
14 Jan 08
Aedonleon,her parents must be very proud of her.
@owlwings (41671)
• Cambridge, England
14 Jan 08
No, it doesn't annoy me to hear others speaking in, say, Spanish if they are talking amongst themselves. Using another language in front of English speakers can, however, be used to be pointedly rude. I have encountered this in Wales when two shop girls were speaking in English until I approached, when they switched to Welsh. Now, shop girl chatter is irritating at the best of times (especially when one needs assistance and it appears that their shade of lipstick or their boyfriend problems are more pressing!) but to continue in another language just puts the icing on the cake of rudeness. I admire people who are able to converse in more than one language and to switch from one to the other. I have recently returned from California and, in the local market, many of the staff were Spanish speakers, as were a number of the customers, so it was natural to hear a mixture of Spanish and English spoken. I didn't find that annoying or bothersome at all because each language was used appropriately. I think that you should ask yourself just what it is that annoys you about hearing another language spoken. You say it sounds like 'jibber-jabber' (did you know that the ancient Greeks and Romans called foreigners barbarians because their language sounded like 'bar-bar-bar'? It came to mean 'uncultured' or 'uncivilised', so you are obviously not alone in your views!) We live, whether we like it or not, in a global, multicultural society and English, itself, reflects that. It is not a 'pure' language at all! Do you realise that most of the words you and I use are borrowed from Latin or French, even though English is not a Romance language (one that evolved from the Roman language)? Are you, perhaps, not being a little small-minded by allowing yourself to be annoyed by behaviour which is not intended to annoy you? I would not be so rude as to call you 'ignorant' (though, properly, that doesn't mean 'uneducated' but applies to someone who ignores something) but I would suggest that you are causing *yourself* annoyance by being unaccepting of some concomitants of the international society that we live in.
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@owlwings (41671)
• Cambridge, England
14 Jan 08
Last sentence should read "... I would suggest that, PERHAPS, you are causing *yourself* annoyance by being unaccepting of some concomitants of the international society that we live in.
1 person likes this
• United States
14 Jan 08
Your post is very interesting.Thanks for being so informative.
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@gmakesmoney (2923)
• United States
14 Jan 08
I speak 3 languages, I'm learning my fourth now so no it doesn't bother me at all. In fact I'm usually one of those people speaking in a different language when I'm out and about town. Spanish is my mom's 1st language so we often speak in that as it just comes more natural but we also speak in English and Italian too. Often times we don't speak in Spanish on purpose it just comes natural and we don't notice that we're doing it. See, when you learn more than one language while you're in your developmental language stages, your brain actually learns to think in those languages. So instead of thinking something in English (my first language) and translating that in my head into Spanish or vice versa when hearing it, sometimes thoughts just appear in Spanish and so that's how they come out. When I hear someone speaking in a language that I don't know, instead of judging it or getting upset or annoyed because I don't understand it, I listen to it and allow myself to enjoy its rythm and flow. If it's something I like the sound of I might ask the person what language it is and then perhaps learn a bit of it if I'm interested. Learning never hurt anyone. Sometimes I speak in another language when in public to keep everyone else out of my business. I'm not exactly going to shout to my mom across Target that I need pads in English! This country was founded on the idea of freedom of choice, on the sweat of immigrants from all over the world and for the purpose of being able to be who you are as you are wherever you want to be that. Language is a major part of culture and culture is a big part of who we are and who we are free to be and celebrate. Should you speak English before moving here? Yes but not so that everyone else isn't annoyed but for the reason that in order to get around, get what you need and earn a living in any country you need to speak the native language or languages as some countries have more than one or two. Should you stop speaking your native language to suit everyone else while in America? No of course not, it's a free country not a dictatorship and everyone here has a right to do as they please.
• United States
14 Jan 08
So you believe at least that a person should be able to speak English in the US.so they can communicate in the most common language here.There are still people here that can't speak a word of English and don't make the effort to try. I really admire the people who have made the effort.When I hear people say they are trying to learn how to speak English better or are taking English classes I always thank them for doing so.That is for my benefit also so that I can understand them better.
• United States
14 Jan 08
gmakesmoney,congrats to your grandmother.I guess I could be more accepting if maybe a person is fleeing a bad situation and they don't have time to learn English before arriving here or to poor to go to school in their original country. I think it drives me the most crazy at work around co-workers who can speak English but don't.I'm going to give it a try and look at this annoyance I have about this in a different light and see if I can be less annoyed.Thanks for your comments.
• United States
18 Jan 08
Thank you and thanks so much for trying to better understand and tolerate. I think that's the key to making this multi-cultural country work!
@dreamy1 (3815)
• United States
13 Jan 08
No it doesn't bother me. I'm used to it. I don't even think about it. It's great people know how to speak more than one language. I can speak a few (not fluently)myself. The world is getting smaller people have the freedom and right to be where ever that want to be. I do believe it is easier for people to learn English to be able to fully participate in American society and they should. What language they speak at home or in public is totally their business. There's a lot more problems in the world to worry about than what language someone speaks.
@dreamy1 (3815)
• United States
13 Jan 08
To add. Have you ever been to a non English speaking country? I lived in one for several years. I'm sure if you went to a non English speaking country and spoke English they would think it's "jibber jabber" too and get mad because you don't speak their language.
• United States
14 Jan 08
I think they should all learn the English also so that it is easier on everybody.If I went to another country I would be sure to at least learn the main words that I would need to get by temporarally but I would try and speak their language fluently if I intended on staying there.
• Niger
14 Jan 08
Accept and you'll be accepted...
• United States
14 Jan 08
Thanks for the thought.
@Sillychick (3279)
• United States
14 Jan 08
It doesn't bother me at all. If people are speaking among themselves, maybe they do know how to speak English, but are just having a conversation among themselves, and their native language is easier. Plus, I think it is fine if a person wants to visit a country and don't know the language. If they live here, and have trouble communicating because they don't speak English then, yes, I say they should learn the language.
• United States
14 Jan 08
Visiting is one thing but if they plan on staying they should plan on learning English right away.Thanks for your input on this matter.
@KissThis (3006)
• United States
14 Jan 08
Does it annoy me to hear others speak in other languages? No it doesn't as long as it isn't on the job. It concerns me to have a language barrier with someone I would have to work closely with. It annoys me on how burdened our school system is because of having to have special teachers for the children who don't know English. Like you I believe if people to the US to live then they should make every effort to learn English. Do I expect them to speak it all of the time? No but I also don't expect them to demand that things be done in their language either. We all need to respect one another and our heritages. Not demand that society change to suit our own needs.
• United States
14 Jan 08
The language barriers at work are especially annoying.
• India
14 Jan 08
Being an Indian, multiple languages are something that I am used to. Even then, it does rattle me when people are talking and I cant understand a word. This happens specially when in my own city of Kolkata (where I expect everyone to be Bengali like me), I come across people from other states of India who have made Kolkata their home and naturally talk in their mother-tongue within themselves. I feel left out in my own city, ignored and generally insulted. I feel like walking up to them and saying hello if you are to stay in Kolkata, better learn some Bengali. But that would be too rude, too insular, too insulting, too brutish on my part (or anybody for that matter) and I have never done it. Still, I know what you are talking about.
• United States
14 Jan 08
You feel exactly the same way that I have always felt.You have felt like saying something to them about it and I have too but never have.To me it feels like they are being rude and I don't really know if I can get over my annoyance with this but I guess I have to try or I will always feel upset in public.
@liowkc (50)
• Singapore
14 Jan 08
I don't see any problem with that; in fact the presence of many languages is a show of strength in America's diversity. The original inhabitants of America do not speak Englsih- they spoke numerous native american langauges.
• United States
14 Jan 08
I guess thats a great way to look at it,as a show of strength in America's diversity.I will try and look at it this way instead of the annoyance I always feel and see if I can change my feelings about it.Thanks.
• United States
14 Jan 08
I live in southern california in the San Diego area. I've lived here for a long time now over 25 years. Who am I to say if someone speaks a different language? Doesn't bother me one bit. Whether they are mexican, filipino, korean, vietnamese, chinese, german and the like - they are guest and people like you and me. I've met very nice and cool people from other foreign countries. One thing I do not tolerate and what disturbs me is for those that cheat their life into coming across the U.S illegally with no proper identification and proper papers. And there are many that dwell in southern California - those that don't speak fluent english. Another thing I can say bothers me is that yes correct we do live in a U.S ground, but for those that post jobs to hire requires employees to speak another language other than english. I do believe for a person who lives in the U.S must learn to speak english because it is convenient for them to do so. But if they use their own foreign language naturally around their friends or families I have no problem with it.
• United States
14 Jan 08
They shouldn't come into the country illegally thats for sure.Thanks for your explanation about how it makes you feel being around those who speak their own language in public.
• Costa Rica
14 Jan 08
I live in Costa Rica, and here we speak spanish, and i have the same problem but with english, it really annoys me when foreigners come here and demand me to speak english to them, they dont want to learn my language, but they expect me to speak english, even if i dont live in an english speaking country, at least they could try to learn some important phrases, but many just prefer to speak english and expect other people to understand as if it were an obligatory thing, is disrespectful to my culture, i learned english, i made the effort to learn it so if i go for example to USA i will speak in english because that is your language, but i would expect the same respect with my language.
• United States
14 Jan 08
You are the type of person that I really admire because you learned the English before comming to the USA.That is just respectful to the English speaking people here.Thank you for learning English before you visit or move here.If I visit Costa Rica I would expect you to expect me to speak Spanish because that is being respectful to your culture.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
13 Jan 08
It doesn't bother me to hear other languages. In fact, I find it very interesting and neat that so many people continue to use their native language among friends and family, or teach it to their children. What does bother me is when I'm working with the public and I have to wait on a customer who speaks very little English, and gets angry at me for not being able to understand them. Language barriers are frustrating, and I don't get mad at people for not knowing English well, because honestly I haven't managed to master a second language myself. However, I do feel that they shouldn't get upset at me for not being able to understand their bad grammar and pronunciation, and should have more patience in dealing with the language barrier.
• United States
14 Jan 08
So at least they should be able to speak English so they can communicate with others in public service.Or if they have a medical emergency in public I wonder how they think they are going to get the help they need.
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